For Jeanne, the prescription is equal doses of courage and confidence.
The irony in fighting breast cancer—any cancer—is that the struggle demands the best of you at a time when your life seems to be at its worst.
“I’ve always thought it was always better to look on the bright side, but I don’t think you can battle breast cancer without a positive attitude,” said Jeanne Markley of North Canton, the single mother of three grown sons—Chuck, Dan and Matthew—who, along with an army of other close family members, helped bolster her spirits with their support during her battle against breast cancer. “My boys always have been attentive, but after the cancer diagnosis, there were those extra phone calls to ask, ‘Mom, you OK?’ or ‘Anything I can do?’ ”
For years, no concern had been needed. Markley had worked at FirstMerit Bank to support her family. A self-proclaimed “army brat,” she had come with her family to Northeast Ohio when she was young and then moved to Stark County after she was married. She raised her family, and enjoyed good health.
“I’ve always been a big believer in getting yourself checked,” said Markley, who noted that Pink Ribbon of Summit County was of recent assistance in arranging mammograms. “I made sure mammograms took place, if not every year, every two years.”
Only minor instances of abnormalities were detected.
“Any biopsies they took always were benign,” Markley recalled.
Last year in November, the diagnosis was different.
“They found a shadow they couldn’t explain,” Markley recalled. “They did a biopsy and determined I had breast cancer. Invasive ductal carcinoma. Stage 1. And it was 9 millimeters.”
The cancer had been caught early. Still, “it was a bit of a shock,” Markley said.
“With all the previous biopsies being benign, I assumed that was the case this time. When it wasn’t, I was just kind of numb, asking myself, ‘OK, now what do I do?’ ”
Immediately, her doctors began the fight against her cancer. She had an appointment to discuss the plan the day after the diagnosis.
“It was like, OK, this was a problem, but it was a problem we were going to face,” recalled Markley, “and the quicker you get on it, the quicker the problem can be solved.”
Surgery by Dr. Gregory Boone of Mercy Medical Center removed the cancer, and then treatment outlined by her oncologist, Dr. Dina Rooney of Tri-County Oncology, followed the procedure. Because of the success of surgery and since her cancer was not far advanced, Markley underwent only radiation treatments, which lasted a little more than six weeks. She was spared from chemotherapy.
“I still go in for checkups every three months, and I will be taking estrogen blockers for five to 10 years,” said Markley, “but it appears that everything is gone.”
EXPERIENCE AT MERCY
A support team at Mercy was led by nurse navigator Diane Wofsey. “She is instrumental in helping guide you through all the questions and anxiety,” said Markley.
“The whole staff was encouraging and very informative,” said Markley. “They’re medical professionals. They knew what they were talking about. They could predict what should happen, what could happen and what, in my case, did happen. And they kept me informed.”
Her life was the roller coaster ride that could be expected under the circumstances.
“Initially, there was fright,” Markley admitted. “Then I determined that it wasn’t going to beat me.”
Her remission has enhanced Markley’s determination to become involved in spreading the word about the occurrence of cancer and encouraging future victims to trust their doctors and heed their diagnoses.
“I’ve always been a big supporter of breast cancer awareness,” she said. “I’m happy to be sharing my story. If talking about this and sharing this helps one person, then everything I’ve been through is worthwhile.”